Créatures mythiques animales dans les manuscrits naxis
Complete study made for Arras Congress: “Les signes d’animaux et de créatures mythiques en Orient et en Occident“
My study of texts of manuscripts, iconographies, detailed analisys of signs of animals associated to supernatural entities evinced:
·Ssù – serpent cult. Based of the veneration of the serpent-tailed and human-body spirits, a life-god entity. Propitiated for granting prosperity and fertility, closely associated to rain and water, able to provoke terrible misfortunes if got hungry with humans. In this study it’s directly related to the traditions of kLu in Tibet, Nāga
in India and Long in China
·Bird-god cult. Bird deities are powerful, strong, able to suppress the serpents-spirits and devour them. Able to spell charms, allied to Shilo the founder of Dongba tradition. In this study the bird-gods of Naxi – Dongba pantheon are associated to mythologies of Khyung–chen of Tibet and Garuda of India.
·Serpent vs. Eagle fight myth, here directly related to the mythologies of kLu versus Khyung-chen of Tibet and Naga versus Garuda of India
As emerged from manuscripts and according to Naxi tradition, I mean the central figure of Dongba Shilo not just as the founder of Dongba religion, but as directly related to the Enlightened Buddha sTompa gShen-rab of Bön tradition.
Methodology of research
According to the theme of the colloque, the methodology of study I adopted mostly consisted in the research of signs from documents, as the signs are pictographs which were made of an animal-based graphic unit, directly relate to deities. Once they’ve been found the study of the functions of signs ad of the context was the way followed: identification of readings and meanings associated to pertinent signs, alias the research of the signs’ phonetic and semantic values, the identification and the interpretation of iconographic motifs associated to the pertinent sign.
Then I studied the context, which here is meant as the study of the signs surrounding the pertinent one in an adjacent part of text (mostly the rubric containing the pertinent pictograph), as the research of eventual relationship with surrounding signs in adjacent parts of text for the identification of eventual association patterns among signs,.
Once sign was identified as pertinent, alias study of the sign and its contexts evinced that by this significant a deity was meant, then a deeper analysis I started, focused on the detailed study of the iconography represented by the sign and its variants, the reconstruction of iconologies, also with the help of cross-studies focused on related (but non necessary Naxi) cultural, iconographic and iconologic elements; this methodology permitted to the author some integrations with non Naxi – Dongba directly related documentation, as Indian, Tibetan and Chinese.
First stage of my study, which consisted in the identification of pertinent signs, was performed by the analysis of available sources which contains attestations of pictographs with an animal-based graphic unit. Nature of available sources evinced the possibility of making use of two kind of attestations: direct and indirect attestations.
- ·Direct attestations: are those performed directly from documents belonging to Naxi – Dongba pictographic tradition: manuscripts, scrolls, wall-paintings, handcrafts and sculptures. Some hundreds of documents are available online thanks to Harvard Yenching web resources, which consist in a selection from their collection of 598 manuscripts. By this web resource is possible to perform direct analysis over Dongba manuscripts, avoiding the difficulties in retrieving of documents.
- ·Indirect attestations: are those made and evinced from documents which not belong to Naxi – Dongba tradition, but directly or indirectly dedicated or related to Naxi culture and Dongba, in particular dictionaries, Naxi mythology and Dongba culture dedicated studies.
By this two ways of attestation, the signs I identified as pertinent, alias signs associated and identified as a deity, I then recorded in a concordances’ system, with manuscripts’ page, rubric, reading and meaning.
As introduced upper, further analysis of surrounding contexts I performed for identification of possible association of signs: sources evinced a number of not casual association, here meant as recurring pattern, with peculiar reading and meaning, pertinent inside the context of animal-deities belonging to Naxi – Dongba Pantheon.
Such group of pertinent signs evinced by sources from direct and indirect attestations, on a corpus of 78 manuscripts, according to contexts and to dedicated bibliography, scored 1242 attestations of signs of animals associated to 2 main groups of iconographies of deities:
◦reptile – gods iconography,
with 513 attestations
◦bird – gods iconography,
with 729 attestations
Analysis of context which the pertinent signs belong to, evinced to me a very complex pantheon of gods with many subgroups of deities, both in reptile and bird forms: reptile and bird iconographies thus here I meant as two main classes of gods, as from contexts they appear to be antagonist, while inside bird and reptile group of deities the different form of spirits are often in close interaction, share a common origin, and acts in strong influence and interaction with/against humans.
The reptile – deities iconographies was thus characterized of different and distinguished kind of supernatural entities:
· serpent-tailed, human headed with trilobate crown, associated to many readings: Ssù, Llü–mun, Ssaw–ndaw and/or mute sign
· dragon iconography, associated to the reading Lu
· serpent iconography, associated to the reading Shi-zi
The bird – deities iconographies also contains at least 3 different gods:
· iconography, associated to the reading Khyu–t’khyu
· iconography, associated to the reading Dter–gko
· iconography, associated to the reading Yu–ma
For full work please, browse the table of contents below, or the menu on the nav-abr of the header, or again on the right frame: data, concordances and statistics here quoted are completely available.
This paper and all linked material here available in English language is recorded under a Creative Commons license, here published and freely shared for academic purpouse, available to every scholar dedited to Naxi People and Culture and Dongba tradition.
Créatures mythiques animales dans les manuscrits naxis by Stefano Zamblera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.xiulong.it.
 http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:hyl00002 For a detailed description of Harvard Yenching web resource and features please, cfr.: http://www.xiulong.it/4.0/Dongba/CENSUS/bycollections/HY/introHY.php
For an exemple of Harvard Yenching manuscripts pertinent to the theme studied (the Ssù cult) and for crossing references with Joseph Rock manuscripts’ collection please, cfr:
 Particular attention was focused on Dongba pictographs dictionaries and monograph studies dedicated to Dongba religious tradition, with an eye especially focused on Joseph Rock and Chas McKhann works . In particular cfr.: Rock J., 1952, 1963, 1972; McKhann C., 1989, 2003c, 2003d
 Here manuscripts are grouped in 3 clusters, just for a more comfortable layout. Data are available online:
Table of contents
- Introduction to the script
- Iconography of reptiles deities
- Iconography of Eagle-winged deities
- List of Naxi – Dongba manuscripts consulted
After Arras 2010 colloques have been done, and the work is now focused on the writing of the acts of congress, I’m publishing the bibliography which I consulted to prepare my contribution and relative paper.
A selected bibliography focused on Naxi – Dongba and Lijiang is however available online on author’s website:
- History of Lijiang city, region and Naxi people: http://www.xiulong.it/4.0/Dongba/bibliography/historybibliography.htm
- Naxi language: http://www.xiulong.it/4.0/Dongba/bibliography/naxilanguagebibliography.htm
- Dongba tradition: http://www.xiulong.it/4.0/Dongba/bibliography/dongbatraditionbibliography.htm
After official publication of the acts of the congress I’m going to upload other materials and papers derived directly or indirectly to such studies.
This resource contains all data relative to attestations I’ve made preparing my study focused on Naxi – Dongba pictographs with animals’ based iconography and directly associated to deities, which is the theme I’ve to develop for Arras 2010 Congress.
Among such attestations I’ve also included a which resume and gathers all manuscripts dedicated or related to “Serpent-cult”: such sheet also contains a cross-reference plates among Joseph Rock and Harvard-Yenching numeration system, with available url of Harvard-Yenching online collection.
All item here listed are available as an htm page to be browsed, and as .xls ( Excell ) and .ods ( Openoffice ) editable files.
- ANIMAL BASED ICONOGRAPHIES PICTOGRAPHS ASSOCIATED TO DEITIES
Study of iconographies and contexts directly form Naxi Dongba Manuscripts evinced many common aspects and features with Tibetan, Indian and Chinese tradition, thus I also implemented such cross-iconographics plates for crossing references among different deities attested.
See You in Arras…
Ricostruzione di alcune delle pagine del primo volume (gku chung) del manoscritto Lu Bar Lu Za Sa [invitare a discendere i demoni del suicidio] appartenente alla tradizione manoscritta pittografica Dongba, dei Naxi di Lijiang.
Ho realizzato il lavoro di ricostruzione basandomi sullo studio di Joseph Francis Charles Rock, in BEFEO – Bulletin de l’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient XXIX, 1939.
Lijiang Gu Cheng – 2009 nian, 08 yue, 06 hao
The 16th World Congress – The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences – Panel: New Horizons in Naxi Study
I partecipated at the panel `New Horizons in Naxi Study` during the 16th World Congress – The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Kunming (official website: https://www.icaes2008.org/defaultDo.jsp) with 2 tributes which I’ll soon post as pdf on Xiulong.it resuming my 2 research projects:
- CL.A.U.D.I.A. – Computational and Updatable Dongba Iconographic Archive
- and DO.M.EN.I. – Dongba Encoding Initiative
Many new ideas, expecially for improve my study focused on Dongba tradition and Naxi people culture and history grow up from the congress! I’m also very happy to have met Eric D. Mortensen, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies – Departement Chair of Religious Studies – Guilford College: we spoke after the pics taiking at the end of congress and what we said was very very good and usefull for me…hope to see soon!
Many thanks to Qinglian Zhao for the precious helpoing douring the last day of congress translating so smart and perfect from my bad English into perfect Chinese: next time I’ll speak in Chinese! So impressive to see Alexis Michaud speaking perfectly in Chinese and 2 Naxi dialects…wow! A sample to be followed!
Many many thanks to Mu Shi Hua laoshi, but expecially to Cherry to let me be in Kunming and to let me and Claudia visit her splendid home in Wu Yi Jie!
At today still in feichang piaoliang Lijiang gu cheng… when I’ll back in Italy will write about!
Do.M.En.I. means Dongba Manuscript Encoding Initiative. It’s a CL.A.U.D.I.A. parallel project, originating and taking form by Dongba pictograph manuscript tradition and digital humanities study.
Do.M.En.I. is focused about implementing an on-line encoded corpus of Dongba manuscripts as a World Wide enjoyable resource for Dongba manuscript and Naxi pictograph literature, according to W3C standards for text and corpora encoding.
World Wide web technology at today should be seen as the wider library to be consulted for information retrieval and documents browsing, especially in Academic world for exchanging of material and up-to-date information which run faster then every paper-publication or review.
Many digital humanities application is dedicated to texts browsing and documents retrieving, and cover large range of kind of information: from daily newspapers to linguistic annotated corpora or more specialized archives. Plenty of digital texts and their extreme heterogeneity pushed W3C consortium (among other world wide question) to define some base guidelines for digital encoding of text and corpora digital encoding. at today W3C recommends TEI guidelines for digital texts encoding and CES for corpora encoding.
Do.M.En.I., project of diffusion and acculturation about Dongba pictograph manuscript tradition and Naxi people culture, follows and accords to W3C standards recommendations because it’s the best way to open such cultural and artistic treasures to academic world and all members of human kind. Do.M.En.I. thus operates in retrieving of just-available on-line resources re-organizing them in a CES according corpus, proceeding to single manuscripts encoding according to TEI recommendations.
At today two are the only available on-line resources for Naxi pictograph manuscripts tradition, both displaying some tens of digital reproduction of manuscripts pages:
- Library of Congress, a selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection: http://memory.loc.gov/intldl/naxihtml/naxihome.html → 24/06/2009, with stored in, available as images.
- Naxi manuscripts archives of Harvard University Library O.A.S.I.S. project (on-line Archival Search Information System): http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/deepLink?_collection=oasis&uniqueId=hyl00002 → 24/06/2009, with manuscripts stored in, available as images
they have heterogeneous standards for digital reproduction of manuscripts, moreover both corpora is just stops to “0 level” of text encoding. (Lenci et al., 2005: 57) , for Dongba pictograph text reproduction of manuscripts pages, sequences of images without any deeper structural, meta-structural, linguistic, syntactic and semantic annotation.
Do.M.En.I. projects if focused in building a complete (and open for up-to-dating initiatives) resources as annotated corpus of Dongba manuscripts, and this plays for:
- safeguard and conservation of Dongba manuscripts and Naxi pictograph literature
- diffusing and enjoying Dongba tradition and Naxi pictograph literature
- convergence and unification of just-existing online resources
- implementation of new resources according to W3C standards
- study of Dongba pictograph writing system
- study of Naxi language
Do.M.En.I. targets are finally summarizable in 2 main scores:
- defining and building a codify schema for encoding Dongba pictograph manuscripts according to TEI standard
- implementing a World Wide Corpus of encoded Dongba manuscripts according to CES standard
This is a draft 1.0 release of CL.A.U.D.I.A., achronim for ComputationaL And Updatable Dongbas Interactive Archives, as Human Techonolgies application focused about Dongba pictographic writing system of Naxi people of Southwest China, implemented and uploaded on Web for an onfly demo douring Kunming’s 16th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (29 – 31 July).
I wish to underline importance of Updatable features of such system – which I feel is needed – because of continous evolution of myself and academic scores in studying Dongba nad Geba writing systems and Naxi culture.
I am implementing such resource under PHP <–> MySql couple, that’s because I feel MySql as the best database instrument for building digitals archives and structured databases as Dongba pictographs corpus, and PHP as the dearest and the flexiblest instrument available at today to generate intelligent and dynamic queries targeting Dongba pictographic writing system significants corpus stored in MySql database; some hidden fields of database should work as Ontology for hierarchy relationship between family, subfamily and single pictographs.
Index plates consist in a tree of family and sub-family of pictographs stored and gathered by ICONOGRAPHIC features. Please visit previously dedicated page for correct usage. Each plates of pictographs are implemented as index archives of pictograph, labelled by capital keyletter for Family and minus keyletter for sub-Family of pictographs, then each elements has its own identification number, as in Gardiner appendix Hyeroglyphiv dictionary in it’s landmark work “Egyptian Grammar”. Such indexing realize a precious resource for future complete pictograph dictionary, and CL.A.U.D.I.A. is just its computational implementation.
CL.A.U.D.I.A.’s Dongba dictionary is implemented with 3 main resources. At first a fast free-keywords search-engine realized to lounch interrogation query on pictograph databse. Please, note that EACH QUERY WILL GENERATE 2 MAIN FILEDS OF DATA RETRIEVING: on the top a DIRECT MATCHING SCORE, with the output of the whole pictograph directly matched in its traduction to the keyword of research; down an INDIRECT MATCHING SCORE, constituted by the group of pictographs retrieved because of theyr indirect matching – but existing relation – with the keywords of the query lounched. Such Information Retrival System is yet implementing.
Claudia’s Dongba dictio also presents initials syllables system as tags. Please visit English <–> Donga cidian dedicated intro page to better understand power and limitation of CL.A.U.D.I.A. 1.0.
羞龙. 四月, 九号, 二零零九年